Stephen Berer
the Eternal Jew's biographer

The Eternal Jew’s Tale, #61, A Raven

Edgar Allen Poe; image colorized and modified by the author, obtained from Wikimedia Commons, Edgar Allen Poe – 1848, in the public domain.
Edgar Allen Poe; image colorized and modified by the author, obtained from Wikimedia Commons, Edgar Allen Poe – 1848, in the public domain.

In this episode “Nes gadol haya Poe.” One translation: a great miracle happened here.

The Eternal Jew’s Tale
Thirteenth Era, Part 3d, Ethop Interlude 2

Makin’ up for lost time I works late on a Torah scroll. A quick cut to sharpen my reed; a dip in the ink and a little flick to shake off any excess ink; and chant the line in my favorite trope; and repeat the word I’ll write next.

Now stoke the fire and black flame leaps from the bed of coals, blindin’ light… I’m talkin’ here in a metaphor. Pen, the fire; ink, the flame; Parchment, the white hot bed of coal.
What is spirit to the flesh is flesh to the spirit.

As I ink the parchment with these sacred words…
*‘Rebel not. Neither transgress, for your sin cannot be borne by him. My Name aspires within him….’*
*-* Sh’mot/Exodus 23:21

Hark! A rappin’; ho, a tappin’. Whisper and hisper, yippin’ and yappin’. Of course I crack open the shutter, where, with many a flit and flutter there hops in a saintly raven who perches on a busted basin, a basin that I once adored, and says,
“I am sent here by the Lor.”

Am I dreamin’? Am I disturbed? This bird, is he talkin’? A talkin’ bird…
“Ethop, that you?” I desperate implore. The bird just sits and says nothin’ more.

Anxious and rankled, I lay down my reed, cork the ink, cover the sheet of Torah. Its flaming fades into gloom in the dull light of this earthly room.

Am I insane or deluded or shammed. I sit, estranged in a strange land. The bird ruffles with a sickly croak and now instead of a raven, I note a raven-sized man; a little Ethop. And before I can see if it’s him for sure, it’s just a raven and nothing more….

Like a flickery light, like a pinwheel a-spin, like a shutter flipfloppin’ in the fickle wind, like Adam transfigured in an alchemic forge, oh terrible wonders in the night of the Lor. Please be a dream and nothin’ more.

Then the bird gurgles with clicks and burbles,
“Take wing with me,” distinct I hear. “You are a beckoned to The-Name-Is-Near.”
“But wings I have not, just gangly hands. See. I am caged in the flesh of a man.”

Zounds! Astounds! I’m lookin’ down on a crisscross plane of twisted veins, of pulsin’ lights in grits and grains. Such a thing as has no metaphor. In the future you’ll say, ‘like a circuit board or a neon sign, all sparkle and shine,’ across the wrinkled face of a world, there I am cast; there I am hurled. The world I knew, its whimper and roar, all that is left, all that endures is a faint shadow and nothin’ more.

A shadowy me on my scribin’ chair. My spirit climbin’ the heavenly stair. The window where that raven tapped is a wormhole where my soul is mapped. I, the tiniest grain of sand. I, the universe cupped in my hand. Fears that rip and grip me tight mix with wonder and simple delight. Then the bird squawks,
“These craggy rocks stand on the shore of the House of the Lor, the King of caw and the King of law.”
I comprehend each word and nothin’ more.

Like the crashin’ surf that pounds the earth, eruptin’ in spray as the waves decay, each and all is such a wave surgin’ with life and afterlife, unfoldin’ a path of an unknown math. Moment by moment I see them change, after-images that rearrange, waver and fade in a new cascade of livin’ light in infinite shades. No far and near; no up and down; from my Adam body I am unbound. Like a shadow crossin’ a primeval plane, all my hopes and all my pain, all my fears, none remain. And all the constraints that twist me in knots are like gauzy veils, like illusions, ersatz. Translucent shadows rush through the sky – my thoughts and impressions with an earthy dye. Where I am goin’ I cannot say; all my intension is come-what-may. And yet I sense a divine brit* that prepares the way and guides my feet. And all that doesn’t serve His Name precipitates out like a soft rain, to moisten the ground for a wholesome shoot, that justice and kindness will yet take root. That the viper’s bite and the lion roar and the hiss of hate and the howl of war are a sorry memory and nothin’ more.
* Hebrew: covenant

This my awakening into a new light. Before me a man-bird, spectral, bright. I have seen him before, in a life sublimed. I have seen him in a places occulted, divine.
“You have seen me before, layered in time.”
Is this the raven or is this Ethop?
“I am the one, and I am the both.”
I feel I am burnin’, the whole of me from the top of my head down to my feet.
“I have touched your heart and you are healed. Now in your flesh emerges your seele.”

Til this moment I had no sense or clue of all the illnesses warpin’ the shape of me.
“Crude impulses surge in your heart. You must regulate them. I must depart.”

And now I sit at my well-worn bench. At my window that raven, him who was sent to transport me beyond this shore, but he is just an angel and nothin’ more.

Sometime later I trekked to the tomb of that lover of fables, that sage Meir. Wouldn’t ya know, there sits Ethop.
“Hear you be travelin’ a bit, these day. So has me,”
he says to me.
“Do Batkol still know how to bakes them delicious pita stuff with lamb?”
And so he returns to our house awhile.


In the next episode, serpents risin’ out of the soul.

About the Author
I am a writer, educator, artist, and artisan. My poetry is devoted to composing long narrative poems that explore the clash between the real and the ideal, in the lives of historical figures and people I have known. Some of the titles of my books are: The Song uv Elmallahz Kumming A Pilgimmage tu Jerusalem The Pardaes Dokkumen The Atternen Juez Talen You can listen to podcasts of my Eternal Jew posts on my personal blog, Textures and Shadows, which can be found on my website, or directly, at: I live just outside Washington, DC with my bashert, and we have two remarkable sons. Those three light my life.
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